Kentucky will have a new offensive coordinator in 2021. Rams assistant coach Liam Coen will assume play calling duties following the departure of Eddie Gran. There will be folks that are going to try to impress you by debating inside vs. outside zone plays. They may even throw in the ole trusty power runs, sweeps, and traps. Listen to me on this. All that terminology is nice, but I’ll keep it simple for you. FEED #24. Regardless of situation, scheme, or play call; hand Chris Rodriguez the football. Good things will happen.
Rodriguez is the Wildcat’s top returning rusher after running for 785 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2020. The rising junior averaged 6.6 yards per carry. Just feed him the darn football. Amazingly, Rodriguez accounted for just 13 carries per game. And, that number was inflated after 17 rushes against North Carolina State in the Gator Bowl.
Graduating senior AJ Rose was deserving of his touches and earned carries. Rose recorded 106 rushing attempts and averaged over 6 yards per carry. Sharing carries with Rose was understandable and fruitful. However, and to no fault of his own, QB Terry Wilson amassed 104 rushing attempts in mostly designed quarterback runs. Wilson was a not a running quarterback. He was a pocket passer that was at his best when scrambling. Still, the surgically repaired quarterback’s extraordinarily high number of rushing attempts remains perplexing. To put my exasperation into perspective, Rodriguez carried the football 15 more times than did quarterback Terry Wilson for the entire season. 15. That ratio cannot continue in 2021. That ratio won’t continue in 2021.
Feed 24 the darn football. Rodriguez averaged 11 carries and 96 yards in the five games that the Wildcats won in 2020. He scored 9 of his 11 touchdowns in those victories. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about the Cat’s 197 rush yards per game. That number was good enough to finish 3rd in the Southeastern Conference. My point is with one of the best offensive lines in the nation, there were yards left on the field.
Offensive coordinator Liam Coen will soon arrive in Lexington and implement his NFL system. I’m assuming here, and we all know what that means, but I’d guess that the new play caller is more than thrilled to hear that Rodriguez will be returning for another season. Chris Rodriguez finished 2020 ranked fifth in the SEC after averaging 87.2 yards per game. Ranked just ahead at 4 is Missouri’s Larry Roundtree’s 97.2 yards per contest. Roundtree averaged 21 carries per game. That’s 8 more per game than Chris Rodriguez Jr. I’m not so good at math, but let’s see, 6.6 yards per carry times 8 and you get…..Feed 24 the football.
2021 is an unknown for the Wildcat offense. The exact nature of Liam Coen’s play calling won’t be evident until the Wildcats take the field in September. Likely, run plays will set up the pass. I can foresee Rodriguez Jr. being utilized in a myriad of ways. Whether it’s inside or outside zone, power, trap, or sweep plays; give 24 the football. Good things will happen.